From education to employment

Regulating digital functional skills qualifications

Consultation outcome

There was strong support for the majority of our proposals.

Responses to 3 of our proposals, however, were more mixed, with around half of the respondents to the question agreeing or strongly disagreeing and the other half disagreeing or strongly disagreeing. These were:

that Digital FSQs should be made up of a single overall component
to prohibit the adaptation of contexts for Digital FSQs at level 1
to require the Digital FSQs to be awarded at Entry level 3 and Level 1 only

In addition, the majority of respondents disagreed with 2 of our proposals. The first was our proposal to prohibit paper-based, on demand assessment in Digital FSQs at both qualification levels. Respondents felt by prohibiting paper-based, on-demand assessment it could stop some learners from accessing the assessments who needed paper-based assessment materials for accessibility reasons, others also highlighted concerns with some centres lacking the resources or technology needed to deliver the test online and on-screen.

The second proposal respondents disagreed with was our proposal not to introduce rules around assessment times for Digital FSQs. Respondents felt that setting assessment times for Digital FSQs would increase comparability between awarding organisations.

We also included several questions in the consultation which were open-ended and asked for respondents to provide comments on an issue.

We are pleased to present our consultation on regulating the new Digital Functional Skills Qualifications (Digital FSQs), which form a part of the government’s plans to improve adult basic digital skills. The new qualifications will be available from September 2021 and will replace the existing Functional Skills qualifications in ICT.

The purpose of these qualifications, set out by government, is to provide reliable evidence of students’ achievements against demanding content that is relevant to the workplace and real life. They also need to provide a foundation for progression into further study or employment.

In our regulation of these qualifications, we seek to secure innovative qualifications that are relevant to the workplace and real life, while taking approaches to promote comparability between awarding organisations and over time. We will be taking forward the improvements we made to Functional Skills in English and maths to do this.

The Department for Education (DfE) has determined that Digital FSQs should have common, detailed subject content, based on the new national standards for essential digital skills. This is designed to increase comparability across awarding organisations. The subject content is the responsibility of the government and is being consulted on separately by DfE.

Our consultation sets out our proposed approach to regulating Digital FSQs. We ask for views on their defining characteristics, including their design, delivery and award, and on the work that will be required in order to maintain standards on an ongoing basis.

If you have an interest in Digital FSQs now and in the future, please let us know what you think about the proposals we set out here. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sally Collier
Chief Regulator

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